A little over a year ago, Vanity Fair penned an article that has since circulated the world. Tinder And The Dawn Of The Dating Apocalypse showcased how Tinder has acted as the final nail in the coffin of conventional romantic norms and created a post-apocalyptic dating world where sex is easy to come by but meaningful relationships are harder to find than Osama Bin Laden.
In the piece, both sides are blaming the other. The women blame the men for projecting the great double standard of “hookup material” and “dating material”. Men are chastised for not “manning up” and giving easy women the commitment they desire.
The men featured in the article go on to blame the women, accusing them of the same promiscuous and shallow behavior that men get blamed for. Why commit to one woman when you can just have sex with an endless line of them? In their view, women are just as eager to gorge themselves on the sex buffet that is online dating.
What are the cultural implications on society when sex and dating can be ordered on-demand like a pizza?
It is the very abundance of options provided by online dating which may be making men less inclined to treat any particular woman as a “priority,” according to David Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in the evolution of human sexuality. “Apps like Tinder and OkCupid give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there,” Buss says. “One dimension of this is the impact it has on men’s psychology. When there is a surplus of women, or a perceived surplus of women, the whole mating system tends to shift towards short-term dating. Marriages become unstable. Divorces increase. Men don’t have to commit, so they pursue a short-term mating strategy. Men are making that shift, and women are forced to go along with it in order to mate at all.”
Professor Buss makes the assumption that women are forced into loose sexual behavior in order to have any resemblance of a dating life. But let’s think about this for a minute. How could a girl make herself stand out in the hookup culture that denies her the relationship she wants? How could she differentiate herself from the promiscuous competition and land that committed boyfriend? The answer is rather simple when you think about it. By keeping her legs closed. It’s true that a lot of guys may pass on her if they’re looking for casual sex, but eventually her patience will pay off and a guy who’s more interested in a relationship will come along (this is how it’s worked for the last several hundred years pre-feminism). The professor also makes the classic mistake of examining behaviors of the top 20% of men who can pull and then assuming this behavior applies to all men.
Let’s not forget the majority of men are mostly invisible to hot women. The hotties only focus on the top 20%.
“There is no dating. There’s no relationships,” says Amanda, the tall elegant one. “They’re rare. You can have a fling that could last like seven, eight months and you could never actually call someone your ‘boyfriend.’ [Hooking up] is a lot easier. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface.”
“If he texts you before midnight he actually likes you as a person. If it’s after midnight, it’s just for your body,” says Amanda. It’s not, she says, that women don’t want to have sex. “Who doesn’t want to have sex? But it feels bad when they’re like, ‘See ya.’ ”
“It seems like the girls don’t have any control over the situation, and it should not be like that at all,” Fallon says.
It seems like the girls don’t have any control over the situation? From what I can tell, an average-looking American girl has more mating choices today than the daughter of an ancient Roman patrician. She certainly has more control of the situation than her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmothers before her did. It’s when she gives up sex to dozens of men who have no emotional investment in her – that’s when girls lose control over the situation.
“They start out with ‘Send me nudes,’ ” says Reese. “Or they say something like ‘I’m looking for something quick within the next 10 or 20 minutes—are you available?’ ‘O.K., you’re a mile away, tell me your location.’ It’s straight efficiency.”
Now I’ve never quite understood why guys say these things right off the bat. I get that it’s the logical male perspective to get straight to the point. But jumping right into sexual talk will almost always get an undesired response. For that reason, it makes no sense to take that approach. If it were really that simple then perhaps I could get on board with it. But the reality is you’ll need to have a little game. You need a connection first. You need to build comfort. Digital catcalling as well as catcalling in real life simply does not work. The typical result is the man looking desperate/pathetic and the woman feeling uncomfortable. I believe the practice should be abandoned as it’s not effective.
(The data underpinning a widely cited study claiming millennials have fewer sex partners than previous generations proves to be open to interpretation, incidentally. The study, published in May in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, became a talking point for its surprising conclusion that millennials are having sex with fewer people than Gen X-ers and baby-boomers at the same age. When I asked Jean Twenge and Ryne Sherman, two of the study’s authors, about their methodology, they said their analysis was based partly on projections derived from a statistical model, not entirely from direct side-by-side comparisons of numbers of sex partners reported by respondents. “All data and all studies are open to interpretation—that’s just the nature of research,” Twenge said.)
I believe this study is entirely accurate. Millennials as a whole are certainly having less sex than prior generations. We hear all about the hookup culture but forget that it really only applies to the top percentage of men. The theory is that only 20% of the guys are banging 80% of the women. The bottom 80% of men will sleep with only a few girls until they marry a woman in her early 30’s who has had at least 3 times as many sexual partners as they had. This is what seems to be playing out in most people’s experience.
A fuckboy” is a young man who sleeps with women without any intention of having a relationship with them or perhaps even walking them to the door post-sex. He’s a womanizer, an especially callous one, as well as kind of a loser. The word has been around for at least a decade with different meanings; it’s only in about the last year that it has become so frequently used by women and girls to refer to their hookups.
“What percentage of boys now do you think are fuckboys?,” I asked some young women from New Albany, Indiana.
“One hundred percent,” said Meredith, 20, a sophomore at Bellarmine University in Louisville.
“No, like 90 percent,” said Ashley (the same as mentioned earlier). “I’m hoping to find the 10 percent somewhere. But every boy I’ve ever met is a fuckboy.”
I think to solve the “fuckboy” problem, women would probably need to stop sleeping with “fuckboys” and demand more “boyfriendish” behavior before she gives them what he wants. Humans respond to incentive. Our current dating climate is one where all the hot women are giving it up with no strings attached to the top men, settling for a nice guy in her 30s after she’s had her fun, and then divorcing him and taking him to the cleaners once she inevitably gets bored in the marriage. This is the harsh reality many men face.
Or you can just stay single and have the world as your oyster.
When a man is presented with these two choices, will a capable, Game-aware man choose the doomed nice-guy married life?
No thanks, it’s a fuckboy’s life for me.
And even Ryan, who believes that human beings naturally gravitate toward polyamorous relationships, is troubled by the trends developing around dating apps. “It’s the same pattern manifested in porn use,” he says. “The appetite has always been there, but it had restricted availability; with new technologies the restrictions are being stripped away and we see people sort of going crazy with it. I think the same thing is happening with this unlimited access to sex partners. People are gorging. That’s why it’s not intimate. You could call it a kind of psychosexual obesity.”
I like this sexual obesity metaphor, and it’s certainly something I’m guilty of. I’ve indulged in the buffet. I’ve gorged. I’m guilty of lust and gluttony possibly to the point of no return. While I do believe that a man has to have a certain level of experience to learn how to attract and keep a woman around, sleeping with scores of women is probably overdoing it a little. While I’m critical of hoe behavior, I acknowledge that the prolonged womanizing bachelor lifestyle also comes at a certain price. I would just argue that in the modern environment we find ourselves in, the price is worth it. Especially if the alternative is marrying a whore.
Until both men and women reel in their promiscuous behavior and stop being “sexually obese”, we will continue to see a decline in meaningful relationships. It would have to start with the majority of women demanding commitment before sex. That would stop the 20% playboys cold in our tracks. It’s actually something that I’d hope to see in our society someday. But I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.